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Cholera Outbreak in Zimbabwe

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Cholera Outbreak in Zimbabwe





        Cholera is viewed as a transboundary infectious disease that requires complex preparedness in terms of response, mitigation and prevention. It is caused by a bacterium known as Vibrio Cholerae, and its symptoms include vomiting, profuse watery diarrhea, as well as egg lamps, death can however occur within few hours due to dehydration and shock. Bacterium that causes cholera is spread by contaminated food or drinking water (Laver S et al 2013 ). In Zimbabwe, poor hygiene, lack of safe drinking water, deteriorating infrastructure, as well as reduction in numbers of healthcare providers reporting to work are the contributing factors to the continued worsening of the current cholera outbreak (Huq A et al (2015). Severity of the situation in Zimbabwe concerning cholera outbreak is frequently reported in countless media reports and news from various online sources. Cholera can however be successfully be treated with immediate use of oral rehydration salts but many Zimbabwe citizens have limited healthcare accessibility, this as a result of the recent political uncertainty in the country which has seen Zimbabwes’ economy collapse and breakdown of the healthcare system. Cholera has therefore spread rapidly causing hundreds of deaths in many cities in the country (Bandauko E et al (2015).

        Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Health and various international entities of health sector partners such as WHO, UNICEF, IOM, ICRC, Plan International and Save the Children-UK have established an inclusive and coordinated cholera response operational plan to address the needs of the population in the affected areas (Munier A & Lafourcade M (2015). Involvement of the international entities to help deal with the cholera outbreak has resulted to the improved healthcare infrastructure and better sanitary conditions in the affected areas even though it has brought up certain disadvantages as discussed in this case study.


        According to health record reports from the Zimbabwe Health Ministry, cholera outbreaks have become frequent since the early 1990s. As of 1st December 2008, a total of eleven thousand, seven hundred and thirty five cholera cases with four hundred and eighty four deaths was reported in the country (Munier A & Lafourcade M (2015).Within the same year, the overall case fatality rate was found to be four percent but reached up to between twenty to thirty percent in the remote areas. Of the total number of the reported cases, fifty percent were reported from a high density suburb are known as Budiriro in the capital city, Harare. On the other hand, twenty six of all the reported cases were from Beibridge, a town which borders South Africa in the southern parts of Zimbabwe (Huq A et al (2015). Nevertheless, the disease has been kept under control through intensified prevention and preparedness programmes with help of international aid most of who fund these programmes.

        Cholera is a disease that is mainly transmitted through contaminated food and water, it is also closely associated to inadequate environmental management (Bandauko E et al (2015). In Zimbabwe, interruptions to the water supplies, as well as overcrowding are the aggravating dynamics in the cholera outbreak epidemic (Laver S et al 2013). Furthermore, due to the political uncertainty in the country, basic services have been rendered insufficient for instance, in Beitbridge, in addition to experiencing uncontrolled growth, rubbish is found in almost all places with open sewage running through the streets since the government does not pay the garbage gatherers to collect the trash ((Munier A & Lafourcade M (2015).

International Entities Dealing with the Epidemic

        As a result of the above circumstances, some international organizations have intervened in order to help deal with the cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe inluding: International Rescue Committee (IRC), International Organization for Migration (IOM), United Nations International Children’s Fund and the World Health Organization (WHO).

        IRC is commissioned to help people whose lives and livelihoods are devastated by war or disaster in order to persist, recover and gain control of their future. Following the country’s devastating cholera epidemic, IRC is working with the local communities with a bid to improve sanitation, accessibility to clean water as well as boost livelihood opportunities (Munier A & Lafourcade M (2015). It focusses its efforts mainly in Masvingo and Manicaland provinces by providing vouchers to enable farmers the ability to purchase the equipment required to plant and harvest crops in order to recover from the drought effects, they also drill deeper wells and rehabilitate water collection points to provide more citizens with access to safer water Bandauko E et al (2015).

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